At least 61 Boko Haram suspects detained at Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri, Borno state have died as a result of heat, meningitis, and other harsh conditions, a report by an online newspaper, The Cable, has reported.
Eight of the suspects were said to have died on Wednesday, same day the army released to the Borno state government some of the detainees whom it said had been cleared of involvement in insurgency.
Corpses of the deceased terror suspects were reportedly taken to the mortuary at the State Specialist Hospital, where military personnel ordered some staff members of the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, to bury them in a mass grave.
According to the report, the staff members tried to resist the order because there had been no autopsy for the corpses and there were little or no records for them — “but the orders of the military (later) had to be carried out.”
A source at the hospital told The Cable that the cause of the deaths could not be verified based on the hurried evacuation and burials, but added that “majority of the deaths were said to be due to the heat in the military facility, while some deaths were tied to meningitis”.
The online newspaper also quoted a senior military source as confiding in it that “one of the deceased was actually killed three days ago, by ‘some soldiers and his eyes was almost removed.”
The source however added that “all the soldiers that were on duty were arrested while the military command set up a committee of inquiry into the issue”.
The Cable reports that many of the suspects have been detained by the military “for more than one year, with no form of prosecution.”
It added that efforts to get the reaction of army spokesman, Sani Usman, on the recent development were unsuccessful as he did not respond to calls and text message.
The online newspaper recalled a report published by Amnesty International in May 2016 in which the human rights group called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take action against the serial human rights abuses being orchestrated by the Nigerian military in the North East.
“After more than nine months in office, President Buhari must take urgent action to provide justice for the conflict’s thousands of victims and prevent such violations occurring again,” Amnesty International said in 2016.